McIlquham takes over as new Athletic Director
By Todd Riddell
From an NCAA record setting athlete, to an Olympic swimming coach, to small town USA. Eric McIlquham is a living definition of the American dream. He has set records in swimming, lead athletes to the summer Olympics and has been a mentor to his student swimmers.
McIlquham comes from Dalton, Massachusetts, a small town in the Berkshires of Western Mass, where he grew up to play football and swim. He started sports when he was just four years old and at the age of five his coaches and parents knew he was born for greatness, by excelling over everybody. He was recruited for football until his senior year of swimming where he got a scholarship to Oakland University; here, McIlquham excelled in the water and in the class room. He was a 26 time All-American and a 15 time NCAA division II champion. He also became an Academic All-American in the 1991-1992 school year, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and physiology. He also broke twelve NCAA records. “There were NCAA records it was a goal. They were made to be broken. I broke them, and it was designed for somebody to break mine,” McIlquham said recently.
After his college career, McIlquham still couldn’t get enough of swimming. He became an assistant coach at both University of Alabama and then onto Virginia University, where he worked his way up the ladder to become a head coach at West Virginia University, where he became the Head Olympic Coach for the Egyptian swim team, in the 2000 Olympics. He then became the head coach for the Crimson Tide at the University of Alabama, McIlquham coached thirty two Olympians and ninety-nine All-Americans. “It feels good to coach them. To succeed at the highest levels your athletes need to have internal drive. It was a coach-athlete relationship, which pushed them to go far,” McIlquham said.
So after all of this anybody could say McIlquham was living the American dream… But his dream was Family. He took the job as WASHS Athletic Director, replacing Dan McLaughlin. To live near his wife’s family, who live in Hagerstown. The new AD said, “I like the small kind of town, because it reminds me of my hometown, the farming, the small square, the community schools. It’s just like living in my old town. That’s why we moved here.”
Mcilquham has done a lot for the high school already. He has been trying to get sponsors for a turf field. “The turf field is on the big picture, but there is no specific date for It.” said McIlquham. He has been trying to talk to the coaches on what, their teams need to do to become winning teams. “WASHS needs to work harder and harder to win, to become like the old Waynesboro Indians and Maidens again. Not just a winning school, but a feared school. We have to work together as a community. That will be the start of it,” McIlquham exclaimed.
McIlquham looks forward to being the Athletic Director and helping out the community’s sports by any means necessary. He looks forward to the success that he will bring by doing anything he can do. “Right now myself and my assistant, Mrs. Heather Arestad, have been working since August of this past year to get ready for the fall sports which we hope to bring successes to.”